This week’s regendered novel is The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Miss Hyde, available now for purchase on Amazon. The original novel concerned a distinguished doctor who created a concoction that unleashed his primal nature in the form of an alter ego. This is one of those stories I think everyone has some awareness of, even if they haven’t read the original novel themselves. No doubt it’s because, like The Prince and The Pauper, it’s a trope that’s been used time and again in various movies and television shows.
I was drawn to regendering this novel for two reasons; firstly, its premise has a timeless quality about it, with a board appeal, which explains why it’s been used so often. More importantly, for me, was the idea of exploring the different personalities everyone has inside them. Of course, the idea of someone having their identity and personality completely swapped is something I think is particularly relevant to The Regender Project.
Perhaps because of the innate duality within the novel, I didn’t find it as technically challenging as most of the others I’ve done so far. This was more than made up for by the challenge in designing a suitable cover for it. From the start I had a clear idea of what I wanted but I struggled to articulate it properly, much to the frustration of my cover designer. Thankfully a friend came to our aid, lending her artistic talents to the endeavour and providing a great illustration to work with. I owe her, and my designer, a debt of gratitude for pulling it off!
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Regendering Jekyll and Hyde was a fascinating experience. The novel already deals in duality, in the form of someone who has a controlled side of their personality at the same time as a wild side. While this has been reduced to a simple good vs evil debate, the original novel is more nuanced and deals more with the idea of people having to suppress their wilder impulses in order to conform to the morality of their societies and cultures.
I feel this theme makes the novel a great choice for regendering since it strikes at the very heart of one of the great gender imbalances in our society. While it applies to somewhat to men, it is predominantly women who have to suppress their desires and impulses in order to fit into the image society has of how they should look or act. In this sense, regendering this novel isn’t particularly enlightening but does help to illustrate the point and the dangers of trying to suppress parts of our nature.
I must also admit that one of things I enjoyed about regendering this novel was simply the conversion of Mr Hyde, another iconic name and character, into Miss Hyde. Just like Sherlock Holmes I liked how the regendering challenges the reader to imagine our world in a whole new light, without the male dominated preconceptions we usually have.